Ooo La La La
“I'm a black artist with a white skin. At the end of the day you have to sing what's in your soul.” Teena Marie
American Grammy Award nominated R&B singer, songwriter and producer Teena Marie (born in 1956, died in 2010) had released numerous albums and singles since she made her debut in 1979 with “Wild and Peaceful” (#18 US R&B). As a Motown artist, she went on to earn success with “Lady T” (1990, #18 US R&B), “Irons in the Fire” (1990, #9 US R&B) and the gold record “It Must Be Magic” (1981, #2 US R&B) until she got into a legal battle with the label and eventually left Motown in 1982. Marie then signed with Epic Records and recorded five albums with the label, including the albums “Starchild” (1984, #9 US R&B) and “Naked to the World” (1988), which produced the No. 1 hit “Ooo La La La.” She left Epic after unsatisfying sales of “Ivory” (1990). Following the commercially and critically unsuccessful “Passion Play” (1994), which was released on her indie label Sarai, Marie took time off and did not make a comeback until 2004 with “La Doña,” which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200. The album spawned the Grammy award nominated single “Still in Love.” She followed it up with “Sapphire” (2006). Both albums were released under Cash Money Records. Her last album, “Congo Square,” was launched in June 2009 on the Stax label.
Marie was first known as Tina before she took the stage name Teena Marie. She received the nickname Lady Tee (sometimes spelled Lady T) from her mentor, collaborator, friend and one-time lover Rick James. She was given the title Ivory Queen of Soul thanks to her success in R&B and soul and commitment to these genres.
Marie had a daughter named Alia Rose, who was born in 1991. Her daughter has sung under the name Rose Le Beau.
Mary Christine Brockert
Childhood and Family:
Born Mary Christine Brockert on March 5, 1956, in Santa Monica, California, Teena Marie spent her early years in Mission Hills, Los Angeles. She was the fourth of five children born to a construction worker (Thomas Leslie Brockert) and a home renovator (Mary Anne). Her family later relocated to Venice, Los Angeles, where she attended Venice High School. At high school, she joined the Summer Dance Production and played the female lead in the school's production of “The Music Man.” After graduating, she studied English literature at Santa Monica College.
Teena began singing at an early age. When she was eight years old, her parents began sending her to auditions that resulted in an acting role on an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” At the time, she was credited as Tina Marie Brockert. Two years later, she sang at the wedding of actor Jerry Lewis' son. Growing up in a Roman Catholic home, Teena learned to play piano under the guidance of two nuns and later taught herself how to play the guitar, bass and congas. She went on to form an R&B band with her younger brother Anthony and their cousin. When she was in college, the aspiring musician auditioned for various record companies.
At age 35, Teena gave birth to her first and only daughter, Alia Rose Brockert, who was born on December 25, 1991.
In 2004, Teena received an injury after a large picture frame fell and struck her in the head while she was sleeping in a hotel room. The concussion would cause seizures for the rest of her life. On December 26, 2010, Teena was found dead in her home in Pasadena, California, by her daughter. It was reported that she died from natural causes. A month before her death, she suffered a grand mal seizure. She was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Among the celebrities who attended the memorial service included LisaRaye, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Sinbad, Tichina Arnold and Tata Vega.
Still in Love
In 1976, Teena Marie, who was a lead singer of a band, was introduced to Motown Records staff producer Hal Davis. She quickly landed an audition for a film being developed by Motown. Although the project was postponed, she did win the attention of label boss Berry Gordy and was signed as a solo act. For the next few years, Marie recorded unreleased material with various producers. Her luck started to change when she met Rick James, who would do all of the writing and producing for her first album.
“Wild and Peaceful” was released on March 31, 1979, through Gordy Records, Motown's primary subsidiary for mainstream R&B/soul music. The album rose to No. 18 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 94 on the Billboard 200 charts. The lead single, “I'm a Sucker For Your Love,” featuring Rick James, peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 43 on the U.K. Singles chart. The song also charted at No. 2 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles. Her cover of The Temptations' “Don't Look Back” went to No. 91 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
The sophomore effort, “Lady T,” followed on February 14, 1980. Produced by Richard Rudolph, the album, which was dedicated to Minnie Riperton, peaked at No. 18 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 45 on the Billboard 200. The lead single “Behind The Groove,” which she co-wrote with Rudolph, rose to No. 21 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 6 on the U.K. Singles chart. The album also contained the notable singles “Can It Be Love,” which she wrote with Dwayne Wedlaw, “Now That I Have You,” the song Rudolph originally wrote for his wife but later gave to Marie, and “Too Many Colors,” which featured Rudolph's daughter Maya Rudolph. “Can It Be Love” peaked at No. 57 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
Marie's third album, “Irons in the Fire,” was launched on July 06, 1980. It was her first self-produced effort and was dedicated to her father. “Irons in the Fire” earned good reviews upon its release and peaked at No.9 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 38 on the Billboard 200. The first single, “I Need Your Lovin',” rose to No. 9 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also charted at No. 28 on the U.K. Singles Chart. The song also scored two weeks as No.2 on the Hot Dance Club Songs. The next single, “Young Love,” peaked at No. 41 on the U.S. R&B chart.
On May 14, 1981, Marie released the studio album “It Must Be Magic.” Like its predecessor, it was written and produced by Marie and received positive reviews from music critics. The album peaked at No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 23 on the Billboard 200. “It Must Be Magic” became her first gold record. The album spawned three singles with “Square Biz,” “Portuguese Love” and “It Must be Magic,” which peaked at No. 3, No. 30 and No. 54 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, respectively. “Square Biz” also charted at No. 50 on the Billboard 100.
In 1982, Marie was involved in a bitter legal battle with Motown Records over her contract. The suit would lead to “The Brockert Initiative,” where it is considered illegal for a record company to hold an artist under contract without releasing new material for the artist. In such cases, artists can sign and release with another label instead of being retained by an unsupportive one. She eventually left Motown after becoming the label's most successful white soloist.
After leaving Motown, Marie signed with Epic Records. Her debut album for the label, “Robbery,” hit the music stores on September 18, 1983. The album peaked at No. 13 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No.119 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Robbery” produced the singles “Fix It” (#21 US R&B), “Midnight Magnet” (#36 US R&B) and “Dear Lover” (#77). Following the relative commercial disappointment of her previous album, Marie bounced back with “Starchild,” which would become the highest selling record of her career. Released on November 11, 1984, the album rose to N. 9 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No.31 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also certified gold by RIAA. The lead single, “Lovergirl,” which she wrote and produced, peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 9 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. It also went to No. 76 on the U.K. Singles chart. Other singles released from the album were “Jammin'” (#45 US R&B; #81 US Hot 100) and “Out on a Limb” (#56 US R&B).
In 1985, Marie contributed the song “14k” to the soundtrack of the motion picture “Goonies” (1985). It peaked at No. 87 on the U.S. R&B chart. On July 22, 1986, she released the album “Emerald City,” her third record with Epic. The album marked a stylistic change for Marie and confused fans and critics. As a result, the album only peaked at No. 20 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 81 on the Billboard 200 charts. The singles “Lips to Find You” and “Love Me Down Easy” peaked at No. 28 and No. 76 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, respectively. Also in 1986, she recorded “Lead Me On” for the soundtrack of the box office hit movie “Top Gun.”
Marie released the album “Naked to the World” on March 12, 1988. It rose to No. 15 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 65 on the Billboard 200. The lead single “Ooo La La La,” which she wrote with Allen McGrier, became her first No. 1 hit when it topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs on April 9, 1988. The song also rose to No. 85 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 74 on the U.K. Singles chart. The next single, “Work It,” peaked at No. 10 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The album also featured a duet with Rick James on the tracks “Call Me (I Got Yo Number)” and “The Once and Future Dream.” The ninth album, “Ivory,” was released on July 17, 1990. It rose to No. 27 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 132 on the Billboard 200. The album generated two R&B hits with “If I Were a Bell” (#8) and “Here's Looking at You” (#11) and one U.K. hit with “Since Day One” (#69).
After the disappointing sales of “Ivory,” Marie left Epic Records and did not resurfaced until four years later with the album “Passion Play,” which was released on July 9, 1994, on her independent label Sarai Records. The album received only limited distribution and failed to chart. It featured guest vocals from Lenny Kravitz and rapper Yo-Yo on the tracks “Main Squeeze” and “Sweet on You,” respectively.
Marie took a long hiatus after “Passion Play.” During this time, she focused her time on raising her daughter. In the late 1990s, she made appearances on the television comedy series “The Steve Harvey Show” and “The Parkers.”
On May 11, 2004, Marie resurfaced with “La Doña,” which was released with Cash Money Records. The album peaked at No. 3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 6 on the Billboard 200. The song “Still in Love” went to No. 23 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 70 on the Billboard Hot 100. It earned the singer a 2005 Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. The single “A Rose by Any Other Name,” featuring Gerald Levert, peaked at No. 53 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 97 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her second album with Cash Money, “Sapphire,” followed on May 9, 2006. It peaked at No. 3 on the U.S. R&B chart and No. 24 on the Billboard 200. The single “Ooh Wee” peaked at No. 32 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 125 on the Billboard Hot 100. She parted company with Cash Money after the release of the album.
On June 9, 2009, Marie released the album “Congo Square” on Stax Records. It rose to No. 4 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 20 on the Billboard 200. The album produced two singles with “Can't Last a Day” (featuring Faith Evans) and “You Baby,” which respectively went to No. 41 and No. 100 on the U.S. R&B chart. “Congo Square” became her last album before her death in December 2010.